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How to Deadlift Without Causing Back Pain

February 28, 2020

Deadlifting and Back Pain

Recent editorial publications have suggested that performing a deadlift can be risky and lead to increases in back pain and injury. However, no scientific publications have shown a direct correlation between this. As with any athletic movement, if you perform the movement improperly, you will have an increased likelihood of injury. When performing a deadlift, should you feel pain in your back? 

A deadlift is bringing a weight from a dead stop from the floor to an upright position. In order to achieve this, you must have an equal combination of mobility (flexibility) and stability of your shoulders, back, hips, knees, and ankles in order to reduce the incidence of injury. When you create tension in your upper torso and legs, you will be able to use very efficient leverage to pull the weight into an upright position and lower it back down. This is used not only in athletic performance but also everyday lifting technique when trying to move something heavy! 

So how do we ensure a more efficient movement with our lift in order to avoid feeling pain in our back? First, we need to make sure we have enough mobility to achieve the start and finish position:


Once we have achieved the required mobility, do we have the stability to maintain a neutral spine during a hip hinge?

Once we have identified the ability to maintain a neutral position during the lift, are you able to perform a hip hinge? A hip hinge is utilizing your hips to drive the movement while maintaining a neutral spine. This helps to further ensure that your spine is creating tension and stability while your hips are the primary drivers of the weight.


Once you have mastered the movement without load, slowly increase the weight while still maintaining the form of the lift. You should not feel pain in your back! We recommend starting with a kettlebell, which allows you to shift your weight back and better feel the hip hinge pattern. 


As always, if you continue to have pain in your back with a deadlift, seek out a Physical Therapist for a full movement analysis to identify ways to improve your lifting technique.


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